Visiting author brings insight to student writers

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    Editor note: This article contains profanity in a book title.

    From meeting his estranged father while working at a homeless shelter to interviewing victims from Abu Ghraib, visiting author Nick Flynn shared some heavy content in his reading session with students Wednesday night.

    Flynn’s appearance in the Live Oak Reading Series made him the 13th contemporary author to come to campus as part of the series since it began in the fall of 2010, Curt Rode, instructor of English and director of the new media writing studio, said.

    Rode said these authors demonstrate that literature is still relevant and can be produced by ordinary people who work hard at their craft. Both Rode and Alex Lemon, assistant professor of English, have included some of Flynn’s published nonfiction works in their classes. 

    Lemon said he and Flynn have been good friends since meeting at a writers’ conference years ago. He said Flynn has helped him with his own writing and inspired him by being an artist who is “awake to the world.”

    Flynn said that Lemon is part of a group of writers that helped him balance community and solitude when writing, elements he described as important for young writers.

    Rode said the English Department, which funds the Live Oak Reading Series, had made attempts to bring Flynn to the university for the past year. He said Flynn currently teaches at the University of Houston and because of his ties with Lemon, TCU’s English department was able to invite him to the university.

    Flynn said becoming a father has changed his outlook on life and writing. Flynn read from his book “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City,” which he said was named by his father and centers around their relationship. He said the book has been adapted into a film titled “Being Flynn”, which is scheduled to be released March 2 and star Julianne Moore and Robert De Niro.

    A series of images, some from the movie set, were projected on a screen throughout the reading session. The visuals also displayed a method Flynn called ‘redaction’, which turned the testimonies of torture victims into prose from his book “The Ticking is the Bomb.”

    Students asked Flynn questions and received advice on how to manage and improve their writing. Rachel Spurrier, a junior writing and French double major and president of the Bryson Literary Society, said she encouraged members of Bryson to take advantage of these free events. She said they have helped her develop her writing skills.

    Alumnus Chris Dawson, who received a Bachelor of Arts in writing from the university last year, was familiar with Flynn’s work when he attended the reading. He said he admired Flynn’s style and hoped to receive advice on writing a memoir of his own.

    Lisa Rocha, a junior studio art major, said when authors such as Flynn read their work aloud it “gives it the life the author intended it to have.”

    The next Live Oak Reading will be held March 7 in Scharbauer Hall room 1010  and will feature author Ladette Randolph according to the website liveoak.tcu.edu.